Sat. Sep 24th, 2022

Back to school: 5 tips for homeschooling the kids as more parents ditch classrooms

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Some of America’s parents are still feeling the push to pull their kids from the traditional classroom.

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic shook up education in America, parents and guardians have felt more inclined to educate their children in their own homes.

Homeschool.com editor-in-chief and mother of six Jamie Gaddy of Georgia described the major increase in homeschooling interest across the nation in an interview with Fox News Digital.

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“Homeschooling exploded in 2020,” she said. “Our community more than doubled. Interest went through the roof.”

Alan Gaddy teaches his daughters a history lesson at the kitchen table.

Alan Gaddy teaches his daughters a history lesson at the kitchen table.
(Jamie Gaddy)

Even though the homeschool bubble started “slightly deflating” in 2021, Gaddy said that a lot of parents who gave homeschooling a shot stuck with it.

Now, there are an estimated 10 million homeschoolers in the U.S., compared to nearly five million before the pandemic.

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The Senoia, Georgia, mom — who has homeschooled all six of her kids and successfully graduated three — is a staunch advocate for at-home education.

The curricula can be custom-fit to a child’s specific needs and interests, she said, as opposed to a one-size learning approach at many public and private institutions.

Teacher with a group of preschool children. A child’s specific needs and interests can be addressed in homeschooling, said one Georgia mom.

Teacher with a group of preschool children. A child’s specific needs and interests can be addressed in homeschooling, said one Georgia mom.
(iStock)

“You can tailor this education,” she said. “It can be absolutely unique.”

“It’s really exciting when you see a child absolutely turned on to learning and just loving it because that education matches them.”

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After spending 15 years as a teacher herself and becoming frustrated with an education model that wasn’t “clicking” anymore, Gaddy decided to teach her kids on her own.

“Once we did that, we didn’t look back,” she said. “It’s really been a wonderful adventure.”

The Gaddy family's second homeschooled graduate smiles in cap and gown as she shares graduation day with her grandparents.

The Gaddy family’s second homeschooled graduate smiles in cap and gown as she shares graduation day with her grandparents.
(Jamie Gaddy)

After 16 years, Gaddy said homeschooling has brought the focus back to “family roots,” which is what “makes our culture and our country great.”

For parents looking to make the same leap, here are some helpful tips on how to bring school home.

1. Relax

Gaddy’s no. 1 message for parents is to breathe.

“This isn’t something you take lightly,” she said of homeschooling. “I mean, this is your child’s education.”

“Everybody has some anxiety about it, everybody has a few worries — but if you let that rule the day, it kind of robs all the joy out of it.”

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The homeschooling expert advised parents to take a step back and look at their family, their kids and themselves in order to begin the process carefully. 

2. Check your state’s legal requirements

Each U.S. state has its own set of legal requirements for homeschooling.

Two Gaddy children study independently at home with their dog, Beau.

Two Gaddy children study independently at home with their dog, Beau.
(Jamie Gaddy)

Gaddy advised parents to check their state’s guidelines before diving in, as some states can have “additional requirements.”

“None of them are outrageous, but some of them do take some planning and preparation and time to fulfill,” she said. “So, make sure you follow those.”

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Gaddy reminded parents that they will also be responsible for keeping records of their children’s grades, which can be kept digitally or in a notebook.

3. Use available resources

A wide variety of homeschooling resources are available.

Homeschooling supply companies have exploded recently, according to Gaddy.

This includes companies like Home Science Tools, which provides kits for projects such as experiments and dissections.

Two of the Gaddy kids study high school biology as they dissect an earthworm at home.

Two of the Gaddy kids study high school biology as they dissect an earthworm at home.
(Jamie Gaddy)

For parents who are intimidated by higher-level curricula, Gaddy said checking online resources — where educators are available to teach a subject to students remotely — is a good idea.

“It takes the weight off your shoulders, yet you can sit there and listen and learn right alongside them,” she said.

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While parents aim to personalize their child’s education, Gaddy recommended websites such as homeschool.com, which provide helpful tools to make the job a bit easier.

For example, a child who is interested in technology might require a full online curriculum, she said, while a literacy-based curriculum would better suit a child who loves to read.

Elementary school kids sit on the floor of a classroom library while enjoying books. With homeschooling, "getting started on the right foot is so important," said Jamie Gaddy, who has homeschooled her six children.

Elementary school kids sit on the floor of a classroom library while enjoying books. With homeschooling, “getting started on the right foot is so important,” said Jamie Gaddy, who has homeschooled her six children.
(Pathik Oza/O3 Books)

“Taking those steps and getting started on the right foot is so important,” she said. 

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“If you just jump into any old curriculum, it may not be a good fit, and it can make you miserable.”

4. Be flexible

It might take a few attempts to nail down the right curricula and educational set-ups for your family.

When it comes to bringing school into the home, Gaddy said it can be hard to separate — and juggle — work and play.

The schoolroom inside the Gaddy home in Georgia.

The schoolroom inside the Gaddy home in Georgia.
(Jamie Gaddy)

“We had to learn to flip our schedule — maybe today we had to do errands and homeschool later,” she said. 

“Flexibility is really the key.” 

5. Connect with a community

Parents should get connected with others in their communities to share thoughts and ideas, Gaddy recommended.

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“We have a wonderful Facebook community where you can ask questions and a lot of other parents will jump in and share,” she said.

“I encourage parents to get in with a local group and ask questions.”

In this undated photo, three young children study during homeschooling, in Raleigh, N.C. 

In this undated photo, three young children study during homeschooling, in Raleigh, N.C. 
(Courtesy of Dalaine Bradley via AP)

Such connections can provide support when and if any doubts about homeschooling begin to bubble up.

Gaddy said the public is quick to assume that kids schooled at home are unsocialized — but the truth is, “homeschoolers are busy people.”

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“We try to take advantage of educational opportunities all over the place,” she said. 

Children view a variety of fish in a tank at the Fort Fisher Aquarium, inKure Beach, N.C.

Children view a variety of fish in a tank at the Fort Fisher Aquarium, inKure Beach, N.C.
(Brownie Harris/Corbis via Getty Images)

“You’ve heard of museums having educational days and special events — well, usually, you’ll find homeschoolers there.”

Gaddy said most homeschoolers would attest that they struggle to “actually stay home.”

“Our children are usually involved in sports, in extracurricular activities, just like every other child,” she said.

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While some people might view homeschool education as “inferior,” Gaddy mentioned that most homeschool students will wind up scoring 10% to 20% higher on SAT and ACT testing.

“College professors love the homeschooled students because they are diligent, they pay attention, they engage in class,” she said. “They’re just into it.”



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